|1. JUAN MATA - AMC||8.5|
Juan Mata returned to the starting lineup and, as he likes to do against North London opposition, had himself a game-changing performance.
The goal is of course what we'll be most remembered - and that he spanked it in with his weaker foot, too - but he barely put a foot (either foot!) wrong the rest of the time as well. Just two missed passes, which is absolutely ridiculous, and the second most "key passes" on the team (3), which is a silly statistic, especially since we hardly need any convincing that he is good at orchestrating the Chelsea attack.
Before the match, Mourinho challenged the team to give him a selection headache for Saturday and just like in the previous round of the League Cup, Mata shone brightly. Something tells me we won't see the Schürrle-Oscar-Hazard combination against Newcastle on the weekend.
Obviously with six talented, Premier League-quality attacking midfielders on the squad - all of them healthy - Mourinho cannot possibly please all fans with his selections. But continuing to employ a sensible rotation as he's done so far - a strategy that has resulted in six straight victories as part of nine-match unbeaten streak - will surely appease the majority.
|2. CESAR AZPILICUETA - DR||8.1|
Azpilicueta made his second straight start (third overall to go with four substitute appearances), although this time in his natural position, and, just like his Spanish compatriot Torres on Sunday, was the beneficiary of an attempted header back from the opposing center back to his goalkeeper. That the right back was so far up the pitch may be surprising but earlier in the half, Ryan Bertrand found himself in the same position from the opposite flank, while we've seen Branislav Ivanovic steam forward in a similar manner on many a Chelsea counter-attack.
From the special praise Mourinho reserved for "Dave" in his pre-match notes versus Manchester City to the big hug he gave his new Paulo Ferreira after the Arsenal match, there's no doubt that Azpilicueta will play many more key minutes in what is sure to be a long and arduous season.
|3. RYAN BERTRAND - DL||8.0|
Just like Azpilicueta, Bertrand was making his third start of the season and just like Azpilicueta, Chelsea have remained perfect in those starts.
After a somewhat lackluster 2012/13, Bertrand is once again proving that he's more than a capable understudy to the long-term excellence at left back that has been Ashley Cole. While neither player offers true excellence at the moment, Bertrand has shown that he's fit for duty, especially on the attacking side of the ball. I certainly feel a lot better about life after Ashley now than I did towards the end of last season.
Schwarzer (7.4), Cahill (6.6), David Luiz (7.3), Mikel (7.3), Essien (7.2), De Bruyne (6.4), Willian (8.0), Eto'o (6.6)
Ramires (6.9), Ba (6.5), Kalas (6.4)
Without having a replay readily available, I haven't had a chance to watch this one again. So if y'all want to point out some extra nice or extra bad things that happened, especially of the not so obvious kind, go right ahead. For me, while there were lots of nice things in the mostly dominant performance, the best of all were away fans, 9000 strong, who sang and chanted their hearts out.